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The Essay
Show #62
Slurry Night
David Gunn
Vincent van Gogh died today. Not in 1890 by his own hand -- or, technically, from a bullet from a small caliber pistol bartered from a tall, wiry man with an oxtail mustache who once sang Lieder with Johannes Brahms which he held in his left hand -- as smarmy, know-it-all art history books would have you believe, but today, July 27, 1996. He is, or was briefly, 143. He is survived by his father, Giuseppe, who is also 143. Vincent had been in failing health for the past 96 years, ever since he was gored by a toreador in a Mont Blanc supermarket, and the less said about that incident, the better. Some of you may be asking yourselves -- perhaps even out loud, which may be attracting glances of bewilderment from those around you -- how can I be so sure of this, especially when his riddle bulleted body has been on display in the east wing of the Louvre for over a century! Simple. A couple of Augusts ago, I met Vince in a backwater Nova Scotia diner where he was painting tropical scenes on the shells of turtles for the Caribbean Tourism Council. Even though he'd had his missing earlobe surgically reconstituted, I recognized him at once from his uncanny resemblance to Paul Gauguin's daughter, Norma. He confirmed my suspicions, but made me promise not to reveal his true identity pre-posthumously. I agreed, and when I learned of Norma's untimely death today, likewise at the age of 143, I was determined to tell his story to the world at last. Actually, there's not much to tell. Aside from his turtle shell sketches, he hasn't done much painting in the last hundred odd years. Of the ten he showed me, I'd recommend art critics take a long gander at "The Mr. Potato Head Eaters" from 1960, which shows children taking apart and ravenously devouring a common toy; "Self-Portrait with Straw" from 1971, which shows Vince in a Nehru jacket with that ever-present smirk on his face sucking down an egg creme at an Anytown USA soda fountain; "Still Life with Sunflower Seeds," also from 1971, which needs no further explanation, except to point out that the still life isn't really "still" -- it's been moving, seemingly with a life of its own, for over 25 years now!; "The Bedroom Closet at Arles," date unknown, which depicts two shelves in a dark closet in a dark room at midnight during a full lunar eclipse; "Slurry Night" from 1980, which graphically reveals the tragedy and horror a small town must endure after a freight train boxcar carrying 80 tons of toxic waste slurry derails, spilling its fetid contents over the surrounding countryside (and providing the central theme to the 1982 French movie,

Le flambeau oriange, or, The Slurry Night; and finally, from 1990, "Crows in the Soyfields," whose images are simply too disturbing to put on the radio. However, if you send us a self-addressed stamped post card, we'll write back to confirm that this is indeed the 62nd episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, this portion of which will have served its purpose well into the future tense of pluperfect symbiosis.

On this day in 1214, the Battle of Bouvines, or the Mad Cow War, claimed over 800 head of Herefords, although the rest of their bodies were in pretty good shape. Snooty historians, however, were quick to term the casualties cattleastrophic.

By the way, there is an error in your program guide on page 2. Just thought you'd want to know. And if you want to know still more, just ask Kolvas, formerly of the LPs.